In my capacity as Lead Spokesman for the Caribbean Community on Bananas I sent off a letter on Saturday July 8, 2000 to the President of the General Affairs Council of the European Union Mr. Hubert Vedrine, expressing alarm at the recent proposals submitted by the Commission with a view to resolving the Banana dispute on Monday July 10, 2000.
The Caribbean and ACP producers have set out our position in terms of a tariff rate quota. Various studies have been done by the Commission to find ways to implement this tariff rate quota. We remain convinced that a tariff only solution will be disastrous at this time for our banana industry.
The licensing auction method has not met with favour from the various parties concerned. In the current review there is a proposal of allocating licences on a first come, first served basis until January 1, 2006, when the tariff only system will be implemented. The Commission has had difficulty in determining how this system could be managed which would have to include linking volumes and ships and time.
Attention has also been paid to distribution of licences on a historical basis, but countries do not agree on the reference period to be used.
I am informed by Ambassador Laurent in Brussels that my letter to the Council was extremely timely. The Council did not accept the Commission’s proposals and reiterated “its concern to reach a solution to the dispute as quickly as possible, having regard to WTO rules, the interests of the Community producers and the commitments of the Union to the ACP countries, especially the most vulnerable.”
It is now necessary for Caribbean Prime Ministers to begin again a new round of lobbying in Europe before the vacation period in August.